The skincare battle has been one that I’ve fought since I was (unfortunately) in the fifth grade. I had awful, painful acne that covered the surface of my skin from the time I was young, creating issues when it came to building self-confidence and detrimentally hurting my self image.
I actually took Accutane (you know, that intense oral drug) three times. Three. Times. Granted, I didn’t finish two of the cycles but still. I had to begin and stop the process three separate times. And it was awful.
It took me until I was in the 12th grade to really clear up my face, and even that was sub-par. My skin was by no means awful, but it also wasn’t clear. It’s hard now to find photos from when my skin was bad, so I’m sorry for the lack of documentation. But honestly, I didn’t want those photos saved. Not then, anyway.
After years and years of trying several different products and heading to the dermatologist for topical creams and oral pills, my mother decided to take me to an aesthetician for holistic skincare. They did a gentle extraction on my skin, then recommended the products that changed. the. game. forever.
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01. Wash your face with a gentle cleanser
I usually do something called “double cleansing,” which is essentially just washing your face… twice. I start off with a drugstore cleanser to remove my makeup. It’s important to me to have something gentle without too many harsh chemicals in it that’ll burn my face. I’m honestly not very picky about this first cleanser, but some good ones are linked here. I like the feel of cleansers that are described as “milk” cleansers, and of course, I love a good Cetaphil cleanser!
Garnier SkinActive Micellar Foaming Face Wash
Simple Kind to Skin Foaming Cleanser
02. Wash your face again with a Clarisonic and an exfoliating cleanser
I’ve been in a love-hate relationship with my Clarisonic since like… the seventh grade. I was so excited because I was able to get it in the lime green color (lol).
For a long time, I thought the Clarisonic was too harsh on my skin and causing a lot of redness and pain. Buuuuut, as I got older, I realized that the Clarisonic wasn’t doing that, but the heavy and harsh chemical cleansers I was using in conjunction with it were. Taking off your makeup with a gentle cleanser first really helps with not just putting the Clarisonic to your face full of makeup and swirling foundation around in concentric circles.
The brush is this re-chargable and vibrates in circular motions to help get into your pores and really clear out your skin. It removes makeup, dirt, oil & debris, sunscreen and pollution from your everyday life. It claims to clean six times better than your hands alone, and I believe that. Any time I clean my face with just the exfoliating cleanser then tone, it astonishes me how much product is still coming off of my face. With the Clarisonic, it’s very minimal.
AHA Exfoliating Cleanser
The aesthetician I went to sold a whole line of Societe Clinical Skin Care products, and they recommended the AHA Exfoliating Cleanser to start with. This cleanser is incredible. It’s an alpha-hydroxyl acid cleanser that supposedly “accelerates the exfoliation of dead skin cells from within the skin’s layers, helping skin to look healthier, younger, smoother and firmer.”
It’s perfect for my skin type, which is combination-oily (during Phoenix winters, I get really dry around my chin). My mother doesn’t like it as much and she doesn’t think it works as well on my younger siblings, but I could never recommend this product enough if you’re struggling. Of course, everyone’s skin is different, but this cleanser is something I can’t live without. It has tea tree oil in it, too, which is so awesome for your skin!
I usually repurchase it three times a year, and my mom stocks up for me during Christmastime. It’s on the pricier side, more towards the luxury skincare prices at $35 a bottle (if you order from Simply Smooth Skincare). This site also has free shipping, which is pretty neat.
03. Apply micellar water
Micellar water is something that has been popular in France for a long time, but has recently broken through the stateside barrier and become more popular in the US. Micellar water is comprised of micelle molecules that cling to dirt and makeup debris and break it down without harsh chemicals like alcohol (I stay away from that). It’s very gentle on sensitive skin especially, and it works really well on breaking down waterproof makeup, too. It’s always astonishing to me how much makeup comes off on cotton rounds when I use this!
04. Apply witch hazel
I didn’t really start using a toner until I was a bit older (in college, really), and I feel like this has really helped to step up my skincare game. A boy I dated actually recommended trying to use Witch Hazel on my skin, and I’ve been using it ever since. Witch hazel is an astringent that has several anti-inflammatory and antiviral properties, which is useful in treating acne and removing oils from your skin. It’s especially helpful for spot treatment, but I just take a cotton round and apply it all over my skin.
05. Apply an oil-free moisturizer
If you have oily or combination skin, an oil-free moisturizer is probably your best bet for staying hydrated and matte without the extra oil.
Neutrogena Hydro Boost Water gel
Neutrogena Oil-Free Moisturizer
Alba Botanica Hawaiian Moisture Cream
Serums & Topical Treatments
06. Apply a serum for spot treatments
Blemish Clarifying Complex
Next up, my aesthetician recommended the Blemish Clarifying Complex from Societe. This is a topical serum that you spread onto your face after you’ve cleansed, toned and moisturized it. You only need a little bit, so it usually lasts me much longer than the cleanser. I also don’t use this product every night because it can be quite drying, especially in the winter months.
The description says that the product is “a unique complex that directly addresses the causes of inflamed and problematic skin. Bacteria, oil production, inflammation and cellular build-up are all components that increase negative skin responses, causing impure, inflamed and problematic skin. Used daily, this complex will aid in reducing these triggers, improving the skin’s condition and overall appearance.”
Bold claims, but doesn’t change the fact that this product is absolutely incredible. This serum is a bit more pricey and skews towards the luxury and high-end prices, but it lasts you around 6 months if you use it sparingly enough (like you’re supposed to). A little goes a long, long way. The price is $50 and you can order it from Simply Smooth Skincare for free shipping.
Aaaaaaand, you’re finally done! I know it can take quite a while every night and it’s such a hassle to get up and go through this routine, but it’s so worth it. Your skin will thank you for it! Being kind to your skin is part of being kind to your soul, so remember that next time you fall asleep with a face full of foundation (yikes. big yikes).
Let me know if there are any products I have to try, or if you’ve tried more of the Societe skincare line so that I can scope out my next holy grail item.